BBQ life #8
How did I get here? I often look back and think about my BBQ journey. What choices I made and why. Some choices were easy some were definitely not, some we're not choices but things that just sort of happened. But these choices have shaped my journey to where I am today and where I will be tomorrow.
I often get asked about what cookers I use and what about them made me choose that style. My main cooker is a Lang 84 deluxe trailer. This is a reverse flow offset stick burner. This pit is a beast, big heavy gage steel, heavy doors and big firebox. So this pit was less a choice and more of one of those things that happened. A friend of mine who helped fuel my passion for BBQ happened to have a couple of Lang's and was getting a new Myron Mixon trailer. He asked me if I was interested in one of the Langs. I had been lucky enough at this point to get to use the Langs a couple time by myself at this point and had really enjoyed cooking on them. I jumped at the chance to get my hands on one.
Now I know the new hot thing is pellet cookers. For me though there is nothing like a stick burner. Controlling my temps by the logs I chose to burn. This is one of the best parts of having a stick burner. To use a stick burner you have no choice but to pay attention to your cook. There is no set and forget there is no such thing as easy when it comes to this type of cooker. But that is why I love it. It forces me to have to pay attention to not only the food but the fire.
Wood and my choice of, not only the kind but the pieces I use all impact my BBQ. With the Lang there is a large fire box and I control my temps by how large I let the fire grow. I choose to use fruit woods not only do to the large abundance of fruit farms in the area but because of the color and flavor it adds to my cooking. One of best parts of a stick burner is the ability to easily add a different kind of wood to the mix say something like hickory for a stronger smoke then the fruit woods. I also have to be careful the size of the piece I chose. Did the temp go down alot or only a little? These all help determine the piece of wood I put in.
The Lang is what's called reverse flow cooker. This means the chimney is on the same side as the firebox. This allows for very even temperature throughout the cooking chamber. This allows me to leave meat where it starts in the cooker because there aren't really any hotspots. This design also helps in moving smoke and heat very efficiently through the cooker.
Now the Lang gives me the ability to truly cook in whatever style I want. I can cook low and slow or hot and fast. For the most part I cook on the lower slower side 250 to 275 the beauty of the Lang is I can crank it up and get to the 325 to 400 range if I want. I have found that the cooker loves to sit around 275 so this is where my style has adapted to the cooker I am using. Every smoker has its own personality so you have to learn it and adjust to it.
One of the smartest choices I made was to do a lot of reading before I really started cooking. It not only helped me to cook with it but what and how. Now as some of you may know I am from up in the Northeast this makes it easy for me to pick from the different BBQ styles because I'm not beholden to one style or another. After eating, reading and watching all kinds of BBQ I started to piece together my own style. Brisket for example, I cook more in the central Texas style mainly because that was what I loved. To me there is nothing better than a slice of fatty brisket with a good crunchy bark. When it comes to ribs though I am more of a Memphis dry rub style person. I am not a fan of ribs drenched in sauce. This is one of the hardest things for me to when I am cooking for a competition because this is not how I want them. Competition cooking is very different from cooking for friends or family.
The other large influence on my style of cooking has been the friends I have made in the BBQ community. People like the Brooklyn Pit Rat and the Mixon family. Getting to spend time with Bubba and Rodney from Smokin at the track. All of these people have shared their influences and styles with me and I have adapted the lessons they have taught me into my own style.
What choices have you made in your BBQ journey? Everyday we make them even if it's as simple as should I cook today or not. So get out there and light your pits! #cowboyup and #keepsmoking